Jake Gyllenhaal certainly likes a change of scenery. Since flitting from the icebergs of The Day After Tomorrow to the high country of Brokeback Mountain and the deserts of Prince of Persia, he’s been barely recognisable as the sensitive young star of 2001’s mind-boggling cult-hit Donnie Darko. Now, in soon-to-be-released sci-fi thriller Source Code, the 30-year-old actor plays decorated soldier Captain Colter Stevens, who wakes up in the body of a stranger and learns he is part of a military operation to gather clues that will help find the bomber of a busy Chicago passenger train. We caught up with the actor to learn more about the film and what to expect from him next.
You’re starring in upcoming sci-fi film Source Code.
Yes, with Duncan Jones [Moon] directing, it’s about a man who wakes up on a train who is not in his own body and has to figure out why. We had great fun coming up with all the ideas. That was thrilling. Some people find great comfort in context. I find great comfort in variation.
You’ve spanned many different genres and roles in your career. Is this a conscious decision?
Yeah, that’s how I work, even in a take. I never do the same take twice; it’s something that frustrates certain actors. Maybe it’s an issue of trying out different corners of my mind. I love my audience and I try to make movies they haven’t seen before; explore something that hasn’t been explored before. Sometimes work is work and you just show up, but I feel more and more of an obligation to listen to what I believe in.
Where do you see your career going next?
I’d love to explore other aspects of the film industry. I grew up in a family who told, wrote and directed stories, and I’d like to move in that direction. When you’re writing, you can come up with different ideas, and when you’re directing you have power over different elements, not just one. I see the future in creating not just performances but hopefully whole stories.
Do you have any directing projects in the works?
I have a number of things I’m developing. That’s probably where the future is for me. I mean, I’m not gonna quit my day job; I’d like to see how it goes.
Which genre would you choose to direct?
I love stories of family and relationships, but I do love sci-fi, because sci-fi gives an opportunity for so many elements to come into play, and the ability to look at reality from any angle and let your imagination go wild. I have quite an active mind.
Do you believe one romance can change your life?
I do, yeah. You can meet hundreds of people and you can have an amazing time, an interesting time and learn something, but every once in a while there’s someone who comes along and you’re just: pouf!
Source Code is out in cinemas across the UAE from March 31.
Fast facts: Source Code in digits
The studio budget set for the film’s production, a paltry sum when compared with the estimated US$150-200 million appropriated to Prince of Persia.
Number of feature films – including this one – that 39-year-old Duncan Jones, son of David Bowie, has directed in his career.
Minutes Gyllenhaal is able to spend in the body of each ill-fated passenger on a Chicago train as he attempts to work out the identity of the bomber.